Thursday, November 3, 2011

Disappointments of a Casual

In WoW the term "casual" is typically pejorative.  Being an individual that plays the game in the fashion I do, I think some would apply it to me.  I'm an active raider, but only one day a week.  I'm not even exalted with Avengers of Hyjal yet.  To be fair, I'm not positive anybody in Cereal Killers is.  Don't quote me on that though.

Here's a poorly sized screenshot to prove it.  Casuals are treated as a blight upon this game.  We've been blamed with diluting it, making it too easy.  Epic quality gear, at one point in Warcraft history, was a mark of dedication.  A player could spot a hardcore raider in a crowded auction house.  These days Blizzard is scorned for how simple it is to get purples, for how easy raid content is.  I never played in vanilla, in the days where killing Ragnaros 1.0 required 40 people to have their shit together.  I started playing in BC and since I have been a casual in several senses of the term.

On Wednesday this week the guild I'm in, Cereal Killers on Kael'Thas (or Fail'Thas as it's lovingly referred to by many,) killed Rag on 10 man regular for the first time.  I was not present because I was with my girlfriend, living out parts of my life that have taken priority over Warcraft.  I found out late that night when I logged in to do my rogue's jewelcrafting daily (gotta be ready for epic cuts!)  Our GM's girlfriend, who raids on a resto druid, linked me her meta achievement for Firelands in guild chat.  Instead of feeling triumph for my friends, I was filled with disappointment.

For most of the time I've spent playing this game, I've filled a backup raider-type role.  In BC my hunter came into SSC to wipe on Tidewalker when people were sick of it.  I did that sort of thing a lot for Uprising.  My longest stretch of full time (3 days a week) raiding came when I started healing on my shaman in Wrath.  Being a casual among casuals (or bads, people we carried the whole way through progression,) I considered myself better than a lot of my guildmates.  Naxx wasn't a cakewalk for us.  I remember how we never really got around to having Kel'Thuzad on farm, or at least it felt that way.  I was with players who constantly stood in the fire, causing avoidable wipes.  I don't say this to reject them as contributors to our time, but to help explain that when we triumphed, even with things other players quickly found mundane, we fucking triumphed.

When t11 came around, I was still on my shaman, but I was playing mainly as elemental.  I was also in a new guild, one I saw as a step up from Uprising.  The Ebon School, interestingly enough, was where rogue Uprising members defected to.  TES was an improvement, but not by much.  I had taken a break from the game when Uprising was flailing around in Ulduar.  My first full clear of Uld was with TES, but we were in t9 gear, and we still wiped over and over and over on Yogg.  Later, ICC became a place I was intimately familiar with.  Ebon School hammered away at Arthas's stronghold until long after the 30% buff was released.

These experiences were fraught with frustration.  Almost all of my raiding has been to some degree.  Repeated wipes with these guilds never really felt like a learning experience.  I've always been mixed up with players who simply got carried.  There is something I always cherished with these guilds though: success.  I think there's a lot to be said for the sense of joy a group of casuals feel when they drop a particularly difficult boss.  When we killed Yogg in Ebon School we nerdscreamed like it was a world first.  Killing The Lich King, even though it was way past when even our crappy server should have had him on farm, was exhilarating.  I love first kill screenshots.  Sometimes I get all nostalgic and look though those I've saved, trying to pick out the names of the other players against the backdrop of the slain monster.

The pride felt when being part of a guild-first boss kill is something I've always valued.  Being denied such pleasures makes subsequent kills feel like sloppy seconds.  This is all wrapped up in the way I feel about Wednesday's Ragnaros kill.  Even though I'm a casual in an underachieving guild, my objective is to find success where I can.  Without it, my reasons for playing Warcraft all wither away.  Perhaps all this is selfish, but I can't help it.  I'm proud of my guildies, that much is true.  We've struggled with Ragnaros way too long.  I certainly wasn't present for every wipe.  Still, I wish I had been there to the kill.  Hopefully Deathwing will be different.


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  2. First kills you're not a part of are bittersweet. You root for your friends, but you know you missed something special - a bonding moment you could have contributed to. Those times when you realize you're a team that's come together to clear some obstacle - that's why I play, and it sounds like that's why you play too.

  3. I feel your pain! This very Wednesday my raid group took Ragnaros down without me. We had been working on him since early October without a settled raid team. Unfortunately, after 3 and a half hours of wiping it was 1am and I went to bed (I am six hours ahead of server ) . Woke up the next morning to hear they had downed him within the hour. Elated for the team , but gutted. Good luck for heroics!